Philanthropy can adapt to a new Climate Normal

Philanthropy can adapt to a new Climate Normal

Climate change will affect everyone—regardless of field, country or economic status—and requires collective action. Explore how to incorporate climate considerations into existing programmes. 


The Earth is unequivocally warming. Unfortunately, the flurry of pledges and commitments made during the COP26 Climate Summit are insufficient to attain the 1.5-degree targets set out by the Paris Agreement. As one of the regions most vulnerable to climate change, Asia will be disproportionately affected by its devastating effects.

At the annual APC gathering in November 2021, renowned climate expert Prof Saleemul Huq stressed that climate change will affect everyone’s lives—regardless of country or economic status. He also urged philanthropists to do more to tackle climate change and climate-proof their existing work.

Responding to this call to action, APC gathered members in a special two-track online event in January 2022, Philanthropy with a Climate Lens, to officially launch the APC Climate collective and to explore pathways for climate action for Asia-based philanthropists. 

Prof Koh Lian Pin and Laurence Lien

Exploring these pathways and priorities for the region, APC members were joined by Prof Koh Lian Pin, Director of the Centre for Nature-based Climate Solutions at the National University of Singapore and nominated Member of Parliament, in a fireside chat with APC Chairman Laurence Lien. Prof Koh pointed out that despite being home to 99 of the 100 most environmentally vulnerable cities in the world, Asia still lags behind the rest of the world in climate philanthropy. Prof Koh encouraged APC members to collaborate with each other and fund trusted partners who can help to build climate resilience across Asia.

He also identified several gaps that philanthropists can address, such as tackling emissions from energy production and deforestation, supporting nature-based climate solutions such as mangrove restoration and reforestation, and investing into climate research to build a scientific knowledge base necessary for a well-informed society.

The conversation between Prof Koh and Laurence sparked a sense of mission amongst APC members. To help kindle the flame, Eric Kostegan and Kimi Narita from Climate Leadership Initiative (CLI) conducted a live workshop session to guide APC members in examining how climate potentially intersects with wider issues—from education to women’s empowerment, mental health to eldercare—and help APC members rethink strategies and integrate climate aspects into their existing body of philanthropic work.

With guided question prompts such as what made them interested in climate action—answers ranged from rising awareness of the climate crisis to becoming a parent—the CLI team demonstrated that personal motivations can shape philanthropic climate action, too. CLI rounded off the session by sharing research about recently developed solutions, leaving participants with food for thought on how to plan their next steps. Climate change will affect every aspect of human lives, even if they seem unrelated to the environment. Thus everyone has a role to play in averting the climate crisis—no matter how big or small they may be.